Film Review: of “She Said,” directed by Maria Schrader

Authors note: President Biden today signed into law S.4524, the Speak Out Act, which makes non-disclosure and non-defamation agreements unenforceable by a judge in cases of sexual harassment where the action being silenced is unlawful. The New York Times reporting that is the subject of this film was instrumental in bringing attention to this legislation.

If there is one compelling reason to see “She Said,” currently showing at the Gettysburg Majestic Theater, it would be to see the way a single encounter with one man — one very powerful man — can alter the course of a life, turn hope into despair, and a young woman’s dream into a nightmare.

she said

Multiply that young woman by 82 and the nightmare becomes a terrorizing force that must be brought to light before it can end.

“She Said” reveals the diligence, courage, and compassion of two New York Times reporters – Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor – who worked through their own revulsion and fears to offer a path to justice for the victims of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer who over 35 years compelled over 100 young women to submit to his sexual advances by wielding the kind of power that could make a career — or end it with a phone call.

That there were only five other viewers in the audience on a rainy Tuesday evening wasn’t a surprise. The film is not a splashy, action-packed offering, but a steady drumbeat of determination as the tension builds to the moment the dam breaks and one woman’s courage breaks through, giving hope not only to the other survivors but to all women who have remained silent, living with the shame and embarrassment of sexual harassment.

And this is where the tension lies — the victims feel the shame and have to live with it while the perpetrator moves on to victimize so many others.

A moment that stood out for me was when the two reporters and their editor were reviewing their work in a local bar. A man with a beer in his hand approaches them and attempts to engage them in his idea of fun. When he doesn’t respond to requests to leave them alone to continue their conversation, one of the reporters reacts in a way that no one should have to in polite society, but was nevertheless cheer-worthy.

The film is starkly lit, blending the work life and the home life of the two reporters, both wives and mothers. The musical track is an undercurrent of tension-building orchestration, almost unnoticeable, but creating the sensation of the power of secrecy and the fragile trust that was the key to bringing an end to Harvey Weinstein’s reign of abuse.

“She Said” is about the power of truth spoken and made public and the work that it takes to bring about change. This film is a celebration of those who would immerse themselves in the darkness so that the light of truth can shine and justice can be served.

“She Said” is in current release at the Gettysburg Majestic Theater.

Deb Collins has been in central Pennsylvania since 1989. Her children graduated from Gettysburg Area High School at the turn of the century and now live at opposite ends of the turnpike, Chelsea in Pittsburgh and Jake in Philadelphia. Raised in Connecticut, Deb enjoys the milder climate and the proximity to so many major cities that Gettysburg provides.

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